Best Affirms Western Isles Ratings

April 14, 2005

A.M. Best Co. announced that it has affirmed the financial strength rating of “B++” (Very Good) and the issuer credit rating of “bbb” of Western Isles Insurance Company Limited (WIICL), which is based on the Isle of Man. The outlook for both ratings remains stable.

Best said it “believes the company is likely to maintain a very good risk-adjusted capitalisation after factoring substantial dividends to the parent, the general Russian insurer Soglasie Insurance Company LLC, and a growth in net premiums written of approximately 5 percent in both 2005 and 2006, mainly from higher insured values. WIICL is highly dependent on retrocession, but this is mitigated by ‘paid as paid’ clauses and retrocession cover from highly rated reinsurers.”

Best added that although “the limited business diversification and the nature of the risks underwritten could lead to a potential volatility in gross underwriting performance,” it anticipates “that the company’s net loss ratio is likely to remain below 10 percent in 2005 and 2006, even when factoring a major loss event, as the net exposure remains low–less than 1 percent of the overall limit of indemnity.”

The rating agency also indicated that it “expects WIICL to continue to underwrite mainly marine cargo and hull risks, likely to represent more than 98 percent of its net premium written in 2005. This business emanates from the Interos Company, a Russian conglomerate, of which Soglasie is part.”

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